by Erik M Roth
The dimming light of Mars continues as the red planet moves farther away from Earth and into the glare of the Sun. The ancients looked at a planet’s passage into this area as the “underworld”, the unseen movement of a celestial body. It is where a planet goes to “die”, a symbolic death from our perspective. Astronomically, Mars is orbiting on the other side of the Sun, where it will be invisible to human eyes for close to 4 months. But the planet is still journeying, still in the skies. And the sky area and star groups in which Mars journeys is overflowing with cosmic legends, heroes, “calendrical” mysteries, gods and goddesses, celestial magic and at the other side of underworld journey lies the Great Lion and a future summer meeting with the bright planets, Venus and Jupiter.
The planet Mars represents the “Sacred or Magical Masculine” in Shamanic Astrology and goes much deeper than simply an planet of action, war, intuition and alpha maleness. Shamanic Astrology approaches the astrological meaning of Mars as one of 12 Tribes (12 Signs) and 12 versions of the masculine. All 12 are authentic. It all depends on which sign and constellation the red planet is in and the overtone the emerged during its most recent opposition point with the Sun (starting the synodic cycle of Mars). In this case, that occurred on April 8, 2014 in the sign of Libra and constellation of the Priestess. The started a long, 25-26 month journey exploring the nature of the Libran masculine with the sacredness of the Earth Priestess.
The Mars cycle has moved from its time in the Priestess constellation and youth to its 10 or 11 meetings with the Moon (looked at as challenges or labors in which the masculine is being initiated into the mysteries of Libra) to a place of surrender and descent into the underworld.
It is somewhat subjective as to a place to start Mars’ Underworld journey. There are several variables that contribute to the point where Mars is no longer visible from Earth: Light Pollution, time of year, horizon line, humidity, cloud cover and terrain. In Shamanic Astrology, originated by Daniel Giamario, we look at Mars going into the underworld when it reaches the width of a fist on an extended arm plus half that amount or mathematically, 15 degrees from Sun. However, under very good conditions, Mars can be seen a little closer to the Sun, perhaps 13 or 14 degrees away. So, on April 17th, Mars will be only 15 degrees away from the Sun.
Two days after the “official” descent of Mars into the underworld, (evening of April 19th) a very young and thin crescent Moon, barely a day (about 25 hours) removed from a New Moon meets a barely visible Mars, only 14.5 degrees from the Sun and hugging the western horizon after sunset. This meeting may or may not be visible but is worth attempting to see. The planet Mercury will also be nearby, potentially visible and playing the role of “psychopomp” (guide for souls to the underworld). It is best to go somewhere with an unobstructed view of the western horizon. This meeting of the Moon and Mars can be viewed, as Giamario states, “a death by intent” for Mars in its journey to the underworld.
What is meant by “death by intent”? It is not suicide, but more about surrendering to the process of transformation as a caterpillar surrenders to the compulsion of turning into a butterfly. The old form “dies” to make room for the new form to emerge. “Death and Rebirth” is another way to perceive the process.
The start of the underworld phase of Mars takes place near the constellation of the Ram (aka Aries in astronomical lingo), a star group that was on the spring equinox during the time of the New Kingdom in ancient Egypt and the origins of Judaism, Mithras and later Christianity. The Age of the Ram took place between 2200 BC to 200 BC (roughly dated). It was also the time when the Epic of Gilgamesh came about and many stories in Asia Minor and the ancient Mediterranean cultures where myth was weaved from the celestial alignments describing the change from the Age of the Bull to the Age of the Ram and also the rise and domination of patrilineal-based cultures.
Mars’ journey through the ages takes it even farther back in time and by the end of April, it travels with the Sun into the constellation of the Bull, where the stars Aldebaran and star cluster Pleiades reside. This constellation was on the spring equinox point from about 4500 to 2200 BC. This constellation has serves as ample evidence to the many gods and goddesses that were honored on Earth during that time period and beyond.
The Bull constellation is also at the edge of the “Sacred Hoop”, a circle of bright stars perceived by the Lakota culture and other tribes in North America as “The Lakota Sioux and some other Plains Indians called this region THE SACRED HOOP. It was considered to be extremely auspicious when the Moon and Planets moved through the Hoop. Numerous myths and oral histories from Native American to Egyptian to Northern-European to Babylonian have referred to this intersection of the Milky way with the Zodiac as the place where souls enter into incarnation” (Daniel Giamario in the “2002 Planetary Alignment in the Sacred Hoop” http://shamanicastrology.com/archives/124)
Mars will be in that constellation from the end of April through the first half of June and just prior to the summer solstice emerging on the other side (morning sky) of the Sun. The sky point of Summer solstice is at the foot of the constellation of the Twins and above the outstretched arm of Orion.
After the point of summer solstice, Mars’ passage takes it through the constellation of the Twins and under the stars of Castor and Pollux until August 1st, when it begins to brighten and potentially be seen as early as August 5th in the early morning sky. Beyond that transit comes a new phase of Mars of Rebirth and the Growth of Wisdom just outside the constellation of the Crab. The Underworld phase will have ended and a new time for the masculine will emerge.
Daniel Giamario and I will explore the Mars cycle once again, to celebrate Mars’ rebirth. We continue the inquiry on May 6th as part of a 4-part webinar series called “Mars and the Sacred Journey.”
by Erik M Roth, Shamanic Astrologer and Managing Director of SAMS
KEY DATES OF MARS Cycle:
- April 8, 2014 – Beginning of Mars Synodic Cycle (Mars rises in the east while the Sun sets in the West)
- April 17, 2015 – Mars Disappears in the glow of the Sun (potentially still visible for a few days after)
- August 5, 2015 – Mars rises in the east just before the Sun rises
- “When the Dragon Wore the Crown” by Don Cerow (shows constellational ages of history)
- “The Shamanic Astrology Handbook” by Daniel Giamario with Cayelin Castell
- “A Shamanic Investigation of Venus and Mars” by Daniel Giamario (articles published in 1997 in Mountain Astrologer periodical
- Stellarium night sky software
- 2002 Planetary Alignment in the Sacred Hoop” by Daniel Giamario http://shamanicastrology.com/archives/124